Avoid Non-Christian Approaches to Interpreting the Bible 

Do not fall into the trap of trying to interpret the Bible in terms of any non-Christian academic philosophy. Here are examples:

 

a)      the unbalanced Marxist perspective of seeing all human behaviour in terms of economic causes. The Bible teaches only some human behaviour if based on economic causes.

b)      the unbalanced approach of the German philosopher Freidrich Nietzche (1844-1900) and the homosexual French historian Michael Foucault (1926-1984) who believed all human behaviour is based on a will to power. The Bible teaches only some human behaviour is based on the will or desire for power.

c)      the radical feminist perspective which is anti-heterosexual family, pro-homosexual, pro-easy abortion and regard men as the cause of nearly all evil in the world. (Note that radical feminism is not the same as some moderate forms of the women’s movement.)

d)      the ancient pagan Stoic and Neo-Platonist philosophies’ general opposition to nearly all pleasures. This false approach has led in the past to Christians wrongly believing, for example, that sexual pleasure in marriage is sinful or dirty. Such attitudes were contrary to Proverbs 5:18-19, the Song of Songs and 1 Corinthians 7:2-5. Proverbs 5:18-19 states: “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you al all times; and always be enraptured with her love.”

e)      the old traditional European philosophy, which was derived from pagan Greek and Roman attitudes which promoted various unbiblical abusive attitudes towards females and double standards about males and females who had sex outside of marriage.

f)       the postmodern existentialist approach called deconstruction which was begun by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida. This approach opposes the Bible’s objective approach to reality, emphasis on absolute truth and absolute right and wrong, and use of contrasting opposites such as truth and error and good and evil. Deconstruction is based on the false philosophy of relativism which I’ve listed next as another wrong approach to use when interpreting the Bible.

g)      the relativist approach.

h)      the rationalist approach.

 

In 1 Timothy 6:20-21, the highly educated Apostle Paul warned us all about following non-Christian philosophies: “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and vain babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it, some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.”

 

 

 

The wrong relativist approach to interpreting the Bible

 

The non-Christian philosophy of relativism teaches that there are no such things as absolute truth and absolute right and wrongs. Relativism states that all claims about something being true or false or right or wrong are only the personal opinions or subjective biases of one or more people.

Relativism is a false wicked philosophy which has deceived millions of people and is one of the main causes of the lawless evil world we have at present.

But tragically, some naÔve Christians have a relativist approach to the Bible. They believe that there is not one objective interpretation which God has of all the verses of the Bible. As a result of their error, they then treat the Bible like it is a book of subjective human opinions with some God-inspired elements interspersed.

As a result of having a relativist approach to interpreting the Bible, many Christians wrongly do not treat the commands of the Bible, which relate to them under the New Covenant and Noahic Covenant, as absolute standards of right and wrong.

It is true that no Christian has a completely objective perfect understanding of all aspects of God’s written Word. But God Himself has a perfect totally objective understanding of what He meant when He originally inspired His authors to write the Books of the Bible and when He inspired His editors to add comments like Numbers 12:3 and Deuteronomy 34:1-12.

It is also true that God does not have a specific absolute will about some matters (see Romans 14:1-6). But it is wrong to believe that God’s Biblical commands do not reveal His absolute standards of right and wrong.

This pagan relativistic philosophy has made large inroads into even Evangelical, Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. For example, recently I spoke to a youth leader who is a godly young man who is devoted to Jesus Christ. But when I asked him, “Is the New Testament command against adultery an absolute command with no exceptions?” he answered, “I am not sure. I will have to research this matter.” This is evidence of him being taught the Bible partly according to the pagan philosophy of relativism.

 

The pagan rationalist approach to the Bible

 

In the 1600’s, the Frenchman Rene Descartes (1596-1650 A.D.) founded the modern pagan philosophy of rationalism. Rationalism is a skeptical philosophy which teaches that we cannot accept anything as true unless it can be logically deduced by the human mind.

Other famous rationalist philosophers were a Jewish Dutchman named Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677 A.D.) and a German named Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716 A.D.).

Rationalism has been very popular in Britain, Europe, the U.S. and Australia right up until the 1900’s. It took over many academic studies of religion in many universities during the 1700’s, 1800’s and 1900’s.

Many heretical liberals in the Church during the 1700’s to 1900’s adopted a narrow-minded pagan rationalist approach to the Bible. In other words, they rejected all of the supernatural elements of the Bible, claiming these were irrational because they could not be logically understood or deduced by the human mind.

Rationalist liberal theologians and churchgoers rejected the Trinity, the virgin birth of Christ, Jesus being God, the resurrection of Christ, the ascension of Christ into heaven, miracles, casting out demons, the existence of Satan and demons, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, God supernaturally guiding people by His Spirit and by dreams, visions and angels and the possibility of God’s prophets predicting the future.

These rationalist liberal narrow-minded individuals foolishly and proudly had more faith in their limited fallible human minds than what they did in God. They ignored the fact that because of its limitations, the human mind cannot understand the concept of infinity which is one of the foundational assumptions on which all mathematical systems are built. Also the human mind cannot logically grasp how it is possible for the universe to be infinite in distance or the other alternative that the universe has boundaries. If the universe has boundaries, what is outside the boundaries? You say, “Nothing”. What is nothing? This does not make sense to the rational mind.

The concept of infinity, the Trinity, the virgin birth of Christ, the resurrection of Christ and many other things revealed in the Bible are not irrational, but are above human reason.

By foolishly putting the “blinkers” of rationalism on their minds, many so-called “Christian” theologians and theological colleges became ignorant blind leaders of the blind (see Matthew 15:14). I refer here to blind minds and not blind eyes. These blind liberal theologians and churchgoers destroyed the faith of millions on the basis of the ridiculous assumptions of rationalism.

 

Examples of a wrong rationalist approach to the Bible

 

Examples of a foolish rationalist approach to studying the Bible are:

 

a)      insisting that all or parts of the Books of Genesis and Deuteronomy must have been written by someone after the nation of Israel began to be ruled by kings, because Genesis 36:21 and Deuteronomy 17:14-20 refer to Israel having kings centuries before this actually happened.

It is true that it is possible that God inspired an editor in later centuries after the Book of Genesis was originally written to add the words in Genesis 36:21 about Israel’s later kings.

Or it is just as likely that just as God revealed to Abraham in Genesis 15:13-16 what the Israelites would do hundreds of years later, God told the author of Genesis that Israel would later have kings. This is especially since in Deuteronomy 17:14-20, God’s commands about Israel’s future kings are written in words showing that their author was writing before the Israelites entered the Promised Land after leaving Egypt and that this author was predicting the future.

b)      insisting that all or parts of the Book of Daniel were not written by the prophet Daniel because many of the events recorded in Daniel Chapters 8 and 10-12 were fulfilled centuries later.

 

Do not foolishly look for myths or legends in the Bible

 

From the 1700’s onwards, many liberal theologians and churchgoers have believed that the Bible contains various myths and legends which are mixed in with historical events.

But such an approach is based on trying to interpret the Bible in terms of the foolish limited narrow-minded non-Christian philosophies of romanticism, rationalism, empiricism, pragmatism, idealism, Deism, secular humanism and existentialism. For meanings of these philosophies, read my Chapter “Using Pagan and Non-Christian Philosophies to Justify Our Sins”.

The Bible itself commands Christians to have nothing to do with myths or fables or legends (see 1 Timothy 1:4, 4:7, 2 Timothy 4:4, Titus 1:14 and 2 Peter 1:16). So for any Christian to suggest the Bible contains myths or legends is a sin in itself.

Here is some historical background about various theologians who have deceived other Christians about this matter:

In 1835 to 1836, the German liberal theologian David Friedrich Strauss published his two volume “Life of Jesus, Critically Examined”. [1] In these two volumes, Strauss introduced the false idea that the Bible contains myths. [2] Strauss stated that these supposed myths in the Bible contained mixtures of truths and fictitious miraculous events. [3]

Strauss argued that the following narratives in the four New Testament Gospels were primarily mythical and therefore largely fictitious and unhistorical: the birth, infancy and childhood narratives about Christ, the narratives about Jesus’ relations with John the Baptist, the miracle stories, the Transfiguration narrative, the account of Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem, prophecies of Jesus’ suffering and death and the narratives of Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. [4]

Strauss’ interpretation of the Bible was based on a mixture of the false philosophies of rationalism and idealism. Strauss was greatly influenced by the German idealistic philosopher Georg Hegel (1770-1831) [5] who believed that the highest stage of religion was Christian beliefs transformed into concepts of speculative philosophy. [6] Hegel believed that only mind is real and everything else is an expression of mind. [7] Hegel taught that God is the Absolute Divine Mind and that all that exists is an expression of this divine mind, and therefore the real is rational and the rational is real. [8]

In 1872, Strauss wrote his last book “The Old and the New Faith” in which he expressed his rejection of the belief in a personal God and his new belief in a Darwinian theory of faith in natural science. [9]

Despite his total turning away from God and Jesus Christ, Strauss’ ideas about supposed myths or legends in the Bible were adopted by others. The most famous of these men were the liberal Rudolf Bultmann and the Neo-Orthodox theologians Emil Brunner, Karl Barth and Reinhold Niebuhr. [10]

Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976 A.D.) was a professor at the University of Marburg in Germany who spent his whole career interpreting the Bible through the narrow false view of the German existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976 A.D.) [11] who was previously his academic colleague at the same university [12] and was a strong supporter of the Nazis in the early 1930’s. [13] Existentialism teaches the relativistic idea that there are no absolute truths or absolute rights and wrongs, claims that life is meaningless and without purpose and argues that truth is a merely subjective personal opinion arising out of personal experience.

Bultmann taught that Jesus’ pre-existence, His virgin birth and the empty tomb signifying Jesus’ resurrection were only myths or legends which symbolised certain truths but were not historical events. [14] Bultmann also claimed that Jesus’ deity and sinlessness, the substitionary nature of His death as meeting the demands of a righteous God, His ascension, His future return, the Final Judgment, the existence of spirits, the Person and power of the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, original sin, the penalty of death as a result of sin and all miracles recorded in the Bible are myths without historical reality. [15]

In his Volume 1 of his two volumed work “Kerygma and Myth”, Bultmann wrote the following about the New Testament: “It proclaims in the language of mythology that the last time has now come. ‘In the fullness of time’ God sent forth his Son, a preexistent divine Being, who appears on earth as a man. He dies the death of a sinner on the cross and makes atonement for the sins of men. His resurrection marks the beginning of the cosmic catastrophe. Death, the consequence of Adam’s sin, is abolished, and the daemonic forces are deprived of their power. The risen Christ is exalted to the right hand of God in heaven and made ‘Lord’ and ‘King’. He will come again on the clouds of heaven to complete the work of redemption, and the resurrection and judgement of men will follow. Sin, suffering and death will then be finally abolished. All this is to happen very soon: indeed, St. Paul thinks that he himself will live to see it…All this is the language of mythology…To this extent the kergma is incredible to modern man, for he is convinced that the mythical view of thw world is obsolete…Theology must undertake the task of stripping the Kerygma from its mythical framework, of ‘demythologizing’ it.” [16]

On April 21, 1941 in Frankfurt in Nazi Germany, Bultmann delivered an address to a pastor’s conference in which he argued that because of the scientific views in Germany at the time, it was important to remove supposed myths from the Bible. [17] Bultman called this process “demythologizing the Bible”.

It is highly significant that the Nazis permitted Bultmann to teach this nonsense at a pastors’ conference. This is because the Nazis themselves did not accept the authority of the Bible but instead believed in contained myths. The Nazis only allowed ideas to be taught in schools and universities which agreed with their own agendas.

Compare the above to the Nazis’ treatment of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945 A.D.) who preached in Germany against some ideas which the Nazis promoted. [18]

In 1941, the Nazis banned Bonhoeffer’s books and in 1943 put him in gaol. [19] The Nazis never did anything like this to Bultmann or his books.

Emil Brunner (1889-1966 A.D.) rejected as myths the Biblical teachings of the virgin birth of Christ, bodily resurrection and ascension of Christ into heaven, the general resurrection and the existence of hell. [20] He also taught that there was no historical truth in Genesis Chapters 1 to 3 about Adam and Eve. [21] Brunner claimed the Biblical account of Adam and Eve was entirely symbolic. [22]

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971 A.D.) was an American minister who was ordained in the Evangelical and Reformed Church and in 1928 moved to the Union Theological Seminary in New York. He taught that the Biblical account of creation was a myth. [23]

Other well known Neo-Orthodox writers who have popularised the idea that the Bible contains many myths are Paul Tillich (1886-1965 A.D.) [24] and the Anglican Bishop John A.T. Robinson (1919-1983 A.D.) who wrote the book “Honest to God.” [25]

 

 

 


 

[1] Walter Elwell (Editor), “Evangelical Dictionary of Theology”, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1984, page 1056.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Geoffrey Bromiley (Editor), “The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia”, Volume 3, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Coy, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1986, page 461.

[5] Elwell, page 1056.

[6] Ibid, pages 502- 503.

[7] Ibid, page 502.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid, page 1057.

[10] Ibid, pages 747-749.

[11] Ibid, page 180.

[12] Ibid, page 309.

[13] Ibid, page 503.

[14] Ibid, page 309.

[15] Ibid, page 747.

[16] Rudolph Bultmann, “Kerygma and Myth”, Volume 1,                            , page 2.

[17] Ibid, page 309.

[18] Paul Enns, “The Moody Handbook of Theology”, Moody Press, Chicago, 1989, page 577.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Elwell, pages 177 and 748.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid, page 777.

[24] Ibid, page 1094.

[25] Enns, page 569.

 

 


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